Interview With Dr. Hadiyah Nicole- Green By Dahlia Tarver
I stared at my laptop with stars in my eyes because on the other side of the video call was an amazing Black woman who found an alternative way to treat cancer. Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green’s groundbreaking discoveries with lasers in cancer treatment can cause tumors to completely disappear without the physically taxing side effects of chemotherapy.
The aunt and uncle who raised Dr. Green were both victims of cancer. Her aunt refused to suffer through chemotherapy treatments and unfortunately passed away, while Dr. Green witnessed her uncle struggle with the side effects of chemotherapy and pass away shortly after. Both situations devastated her and made her determined to find a better and more affordable way to treat cancer. She is now the founder of the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation at OraLee.org (named in honor of her late aunt), a nonprofit whose goal is to garner the monetary support to get Dr. Green’s groundbreaking treatment out of the lab into hospitals.
The Magic of HBCUs
Where did she get these superhuman powers? I was in awe of her many
accomplishments! That’s when she told me about her amazing experience with HBCUs, also known as Historically Black Colleges/Universities. She gushed about the many doors Alabama A&M University opened for her, such as strong friendships, networking, and the opportunity to intern at NASA. “The HBCU experience is one that I think should be mandatory for every African American student who has career aspirations beyond the undergraduate degree. Having an environment where you can focus on academics and leadership, instead of having to fight racism between 18 and 22 years old, gives you that opportunity in those critical years of development, to really strengthen the skills that you need to be successful and competitive after undergraduate school,” Dr. Green said. Each HBCU is different and has a different environment and culture, But across the board, she assured me, the schools are filled with people who care about you and educators who see you as more than a number in a database.
Black Womanhood and STEM: Challenges and Advice
Dr. Green is one of the very few first Black women who have earned a PhD in Physics. Being a Black woman in STEM is no easy feat, and that fact isn’t lost on Dr. Green. She said, “The advice that I would give to young Black people interested in STEM, is to bring your whole self to the table. Bring all of who you are and what makes you unique and special as a Black woman to the table in STEM. I think if we bring that unique edge of being a Black woman, we can literally revolutionize how technology is done. We will be leaders in STEM and own that space.” Too often, people of color are told that we must leave our cultural uniqueness at the door if we want to even have a chance of getting a seat at the table, but Dr. Green is living proof that bringing our whole selves is what sparks revolutionary change. Of course, she has dealt with her share of challenges and obstacles while trying to make her vision a reality. “My biggest challenge is constantly and consistently being met with skepticism and doubt, because people underestimate me based on stereotypes. I respond with, ‘Yes, I did do what I said I did, but you don't have to take my word for it. I published it, it's been peer reviewed, and my peers in my profession have acknowledged my work by awarding my work more than one federal government grant. I have three degrees in physics, patented and patent-pending technology, and I have raised more than two million dollars in donations. It's been celebrated and I have been named as one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the United States by Ebony 100 and the Root 100, and named as one of the 100 women of the century by USA Today, along with Eleanor Roosevelt, the founder of the Girl Scouts, Michelle Obama, and Oprah,' and some people still won't give me the benefit of the doubt. At some point, I wonder how much of the skepticism is because of -isms or bias because it is not based on my lack of credentials.”
Despite the consistent doubt from others, Dr. Green's accomplishments, worth, and work are not diminished, and she continues to press forward and change the world. Children will be reading about her in history textbooks, as the revolutionary Black doctor that changed the way to treat cancer and saved millions of lives. Learn more and join her efforts to eradicate cancer at OraLee.org, and follow her on social media @DrHadiyahGreen and @OraLeeOrg.